Originally published June 26, 2018. Scroll down for news about the 0.5 update.
Effective TDs has released Storm, an interesting new standalone granule solver for simulating materials like sand and snow, developed by Scanline VFX artist Sebastian Schäfer.
A fast, affordable, standalone granule dissolver compatible with most DCC tools
Storm is a fast, intuitive, and robust granular solver that is compatible with major DCC applications.
According to the documentation, the software is highly multithreaded and has accelerated display in the viewport that allows "millions of particles to be viewed in real time" on a standard modern workstation.
It supports stiffness controls and constraining forces and enables the simulation of materials "from sand to jelly". Animation controls are planned for a future release.
Storm imports the basic geometry as OBJ or Alembic ABC files and exports completed simulations as Alembic caches or as particles in .prt format from Krakatoa or in .bin format from RealFlow.
At under $ 300, it is competitive to more feature-rich simulation tools and may have its own multiphysics capabilities: Effective TDs describe it as the beginning of a "potential multisolver framework."
In addition to Schäfer's VFX work, the company has its own track record in production. It's a new joint venture between Goran Pavles, co-founder of Stormborn Studios, and Eloi Andaluz, the developer of Demolition Master.
Updated November 24, 2018: Storm 0.2 is out. (Actually, it's been available for a couple of weeks, but Effective TDs just released a new demo version for Windows and MacOS.)
In addition to the new Mac version, the update improves performance: the video above claims that the viewport display is up to four times faster for large scenes and that the simulations themselves are up to three times faster.
In addition, it is now possible to interact with a running simulation in real time.
New features include the option to use any Sim as the starting state for another, use deflectors to activate simulation only for particles they come in contact with, and use any volume to kill particles.
It is now also possible to create or import camera animations in Storm.
The product was originally priced at $ 279 for a node-locked license and has now been split into a studio edition for $ 349 and an indie edition for $ 149 for artists with annual sales of under $ 90,000.
Updated July 5, 2019: Storm 0.2.5 has been released and provides the software for both Linux and Windows / MacOS.
New features include a Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) liquid solver, which you can see in the video above at 1:00 AM, working with all the forces available for the granule solver, as well as a new type of wind power.
It is now also possible to use expressions for all numeric and Boolean parameters in the software, which improves user control for simulations.
Under the hood, background writing of images and caches is now "25-200% faster," and performance when reading or writing Alembic files has been improved.
Updated November 27, 2019: Storm 0.3 is out. The update adds a new VDB-based mesher that can be used to convert a particle system into a liquid surface.
The Mesher works with both cached and live particle simulations, so you can adjust the mesh parameters of a running simulation and view the results in real time.
Networked simulations can be exported in Alembic format either per frame or as a single combined file: Another feature added in the 0.3 update is a stitcher for converting Alembic sequences into individual files.
Updated on August 21, 2020: Storm 0.3.5 is out. The update provides "experimental" support for CUDA and accelerates both the granular and the SPH solvers on systems with the latest Nvidia GPUs.
Other new features include the option to open imported files as sequences, export VDB files from the Particle Mesher and export OBJ files with UVs.
The update also introduces a new file browser into the software and adds more expression functions and options for controlling simulations.
Updated October 5, 2020: Storm 0.5 is out.
The update – judging by the Effective TDs forum, there was no earlier version 0.4 – makes CUDA support official for granular and SPH simulations, although so far only for Windows users.
Storm 0.5, however, is a much larger version that adds a new, sparse smoke dissolver to the software: Storm's first foray into gaseous liquid simulation.
Features shown in the video above include the option to use spreadsheet input to control the properties of smoke and fire simulations and emit smoke from geometry based on velocity.
The version also includes a new Upsres solver that allows users to develop granular fluid simulations faster by iterating on low-resolution Sims and then increasing the resolution for final output.
Plus there's a new mesh deformer system: there's not much information about it online, but you can see it briefly in the video at 01:05 a.m.
Storm 0.5 also implements an experimental new knot diagram that can be used to generate or modify particles, meshes, and volumes.
It's still only partially implemented – it supports the new features of the update, but not granular or SPH fluids yet – but it does include some nice usability features like automatic node connectivity.
The knot diagram also forms the basis of what Effective TDs calls the "Complete Procedural VDB Toolkit".
In the video, it is used to perform real-time Boolean operations on VDB volumes – including moving one volume through another to dynamically remove regions from it.
Prices and availability
Storm is available for Windows 7+, Ubuntu 18.04 Linux, and macOS 10.13+. It has been tested on "multiple workstations and laptops," with the main limitation on the size of simulations being system RAM.
An indie license costs $ 149. A node-locked studio license costs $ 349 and a floating studio license costs $ 449. There is also a free trial version to save disabled.
For a full list of what's new in Storm 0.5, check out the Effective TDs forum
For more information on Storm, visit the Effective TDs website
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